There is no question that Zack Cozart is having a career year in 2017.
The 31-year-old journeyman has never been a household name in the MLB. However, he’s been a consistent player over the past few years for the Cincinnati Reds. And his game has taken another step forward this year. He doesn’t shine and barely cracks the highlight reel, but that doesn’t matter. He’s been one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League.
And even though he is not a sexy pick for the All-Star Game, Cozart has enough merits to take part in the event this year. The numbers back him up, to the point we can see him among the leaders in several batting statistics in the NL.
First of all, Cozart is batting .324/.411/.571 with an .982 OPS entering Friday’s action. All those numbers would represent career-highs for him. And he’s on track to reach career-high numbers on walks, RBI, home runs, and doubles as well.
To make things even better, he ranks in the Top 10 in the NL in average, OBP, slugging, OPS. Those are star player numbers, and even though he doesn’t hit a lot of homers or drives in a lot of runs, hitting for power has never been his main characteristic.
Cozart’s campaign looks even better if we compare what he has done against other shortstops in the National League. He leads them in hits, homers, average, ,OBP, slugging and OPS. At the same time, he ranks second in RBI and walks, and fourth in doubles. It seems his main competition for a starting role in the NL All-Star Team would be Corey Seager, but Cozart has gotten his numbers playing in nine fewer games than him.
There are signs of a potential regression, though. In his prior five seasons in the Majors, Cozart has never hit above .260 and hasn’t had an OPS above .770 either. And he needs to sustain this kind of play for at least a few more weeks to be chosen for the event. One bad week and everything would go south. But considering how hot he’s been throughout the entire season, it seems a potential regression could occur in the second half of the season, not now.
Cozart is not a household in the MLB, but that doesn’t matter. He’s been one of the best shortstops in the NL this year. And there is no doubt he deserves the first All-Star nod of his career in 2017.